Here’s what to do if you encounter a bear in Florida

FWC says bears will typically move away on their own

A juvenile bear hangs out in a tree in the College Park neighborhood of Orlando (Orlando Police Department)

ORLANDO, Fla. – With Florida black bear sightings becoming more common in Central Florida this time of year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offered some tips on what to do if you ever encounter one.

According to the FWC, bears are more active in the spring because juvenile bears are starting to leave their mother’s home rage. This may cause the young bears to be seen in unexpected areas as they try to find a new home.

The FWC said the bears will typically move away on their own and officials reminded people that if you see a bear, give it space, don’t try to approach it and never feed it.

Last week, a juvenile bear that was spotted in a tree in College Park was later struck and killed by a car on Fairbanks Avenue.

According to FWC, it marks the first time that a “dispersing” bear has been run over by a car in Orlando. The term “dispersing” references when juvenile bears begin to leave their mother’s home range.

[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider]

Officials said if you see a bear in your neighborhood, it is not a cause for alarm, but residents should secure any food attractants so the bear doesn’t linger. To reduce conflicts with wildlife, remove or secure any food attractants from around your home or yard, including the garbage. This also includes pet food and bird seed, according to the FWC.

If the bear can’t find food, it will move on.

FWC recommends to store garbage in a sturdy shed or garage, and then put it out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before. If unable to store garbage inside of a secured building, officials said to modify your existing garbage can to make it more bear-resistant or use a bear-resistant container.


To avoid encounters between a bear or other wildlife and pets, bang on your door and flip your house lights on and off before letting your pets outside. Officials said this will give the bear, and any other wildlife, time to leave the area before your pets come outside. If you do not have a fenced yard, keep your dog on a short leash when taking them outside.

According to the FWC, bears will become more active again in the fall as they start to consume more calories to pack on fat reserves for the winter, even if they are not hibernating as they do in colder climates.

Contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) if you feel threatened by a bear, observe a sick, injured, dead or orphaned bear, or to report someone who is either harming bears or intentionally feeding them.

To learn more about bears and how to avoid conflicts with them, visit or

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily:

About the Author:

Jacob joined in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.